It is so amazing how organizations are popping up all over the world helping us join forces to tackle mental health diseases. I was privileged enough to speak in Athens, Greece a few years ago about iFred’s rebranding depression work, and learned from countries around the world just how important it is we work together to solve our greatest challenges.
I’ve just recently been asked to join their advisory board, and continue to be amazed and impressed by the work of all throughout the world.
It was celebrated across the U.S. when we were able to get mental health parity law passed. I don’t by any means intend to minimize this work – but do we realize that what we accomplished was to treat the brain in a similar fashion to the heart, liver, and intestines? Should we really have to fight that hard for that? Those that were involved in the legislation understand the intense work, dedication, and challenge this simple piece of legislation involved – and unfortunately the rest of the world is so far behind us in many different ways.
Recently I told someone I thought they could benefit from therapy, because they were having a series of issues in their life. I was surprised when I heard the response ‘But I don’t have a mental illness.’ It shouldn’t surprise me, as a big part of my life’s work is rebranding depression and the associated stigma, but still for some reason the comment left me with my jaw to the floor and raised the question: Do people really think you have to be diagnosed with a mental illness to benefit from therapy?
I was pondering what to say back when I read an excerpt from “A Practical Guide to Meditation and Prayer” by J. Douglas Bottorff. It is literally the most brilliant advice I have read in quite some time that helps articulate why anyone can benefit from therapy. Do me a favor; read it a few times, and just sit with it for a bit and let me know how it resonates.
Readers respond quite frequently to my blogs: ‘if only I could convince my 10 year old to do meditate.’ It may be majorly challenging to get children to practice, but if we can get them to sit for hours in front of video games, brush their teeth regularly, or study for exams, I do believe it’s possible.
There are three things a parent must first be willing to give in order to start on this journey:
I’ve been working through Jack Kornfield’s series; “The Inner Art of Meditation’, and I have to say I am incredibly impressed with his instruction and ability to ground us in our practice. I never thought of myself as particularly ‘H’ of ADHD, but more of an I for impulsivity. In working through meditation, I am finding I am much, much more H than I never realized, and that in sitting through this H using meditation I can dramatically impact how it influences my life.
I had a horrible meditation yesterday, and every inch of my being was kicking and screaming saying MOVE. I was just SO uncomfortable in my sitting position and it was painful to sit still, not because of any medical condition but just because I wanted to explode physically like I was about to fall over in a chair and had all that building energy. I did it anyway.
After the sitting, Jack Kornfield talks about what to do if you have that total and complete restless feeling in you. That feeling of “I can’t sit here for another second” using whatever excuse you need to get you out of the feeling. He said if it gets THAT hard, and your mind simply WON’T sit still… (drum roll)… too bad, sit through it, you aren’t going to die, nobody has ever died from restlessness. So much for my pass to escape.
I used to think that Yoga and Meditation were the same thing. In my twenties, I rolled my eyes at both, preferring the adrenaline pumping action of movement – any movement – to the quiet stillness of what I thought was wasted time.
My thirties forced me to reconsider, when I came down with Lyme’s disease that went undiagnosed for many years, and unfortunately became chronic. My aching muscles and bones, and troubled chest gasped at the runs and protested on my long swims. It was then that I learned just how critical meditation and yoga was to my mental health, and what a difference there was between the two in bringing peace, tranquility, and stillness to my life.
I once thought it would be impossible for me to do meditation or yoga with an active body, but even as I have gained a lot of my strength back, I still need them both for different reasons. It may seem odd to you I am even making the comparison, but if you have always been running like me you probably understand the disconnect. The online dictionary gives the following definitions for yoga and meditation:
It seems so basic, yet it has taken me a lifetime and then some to learn that to be in the here and now I have to get off ‘autopilot’ and engage my senses. I actually created a company to encourage it, yet still I forget to do it. My ADHD seems to have a mind of its own so I find it helps to create some tools that keep me present.
When I find I am getting more and more distracted with my ADHD, I practice the art of engagement by engaging my senses. The five senses that I was born with, but often forget are there because my mind is on the fast track. The sense of smell, taste, touch, sound, and sight.
As you may know, I’ve been trying and trying to meditate for months. I’m doing a pretty good job – 15 minutes a day in the morning and at night, with deep breathing exercises. However, these last few weeks have been particularly trying and I don’t mean to be flippant, but have felt like torture.
Literally I sit down and the cells in my body cry out “You have too much to do – get up and start doing it”! It feels like there are things pushing me from the inside to get up and get moving.
I can’t tell you how many times I do this – say yes when I mean no. And it has caused so many problems in my life, and while I am getting better I need a constant reminder of how and why it is important to give the right answer the first time. That right answer never fails to be “let me think about it and get back to you.”
If you have ADHD you know that your mind often is way ahead of your reality. You want to say yes to those you care about, please others, do it all, see a smile on someone’s face; often at the expense of yourself or your actual abilities. It is so difficult to think things through before you react in your ‘aiming to please’ way.
I think one of the great things about being ADHD is that we can go after something for a long, long time once we have our focus on it. Or, as I do, go on / off / on / off / on / off for a long time trying to figure out if I SHOULD keep going as many have told me long ago I am crazy. While others recommending to hold on just a little longer. So confusing!
Winston Churchill’s great advice that is quoted so often “Never, never, never give up.” While that is so true, so is the old saying ‘it is like beating a dead horse.’
I hate that saying, but you get my point. So very, very confusing.
One of my words for the year is Passion. Last night I was at a class that is serving as a type of spiritual grounding while I am on a project away from home. We read a poem and were asked to listen to what phrase or word spoke to us most, and I felt the passion jolt through my body when the words were spoken “I want to know” in regards to another person’s feelings and thoughts. “YES”, I thought. I want to know.